ATR-72 plane wreckage, victims bodies found after breathtaking search operations

ATR-72 plane wreckage, victims bodies found after breathtaking search operations

The plane was carrying 60 passengers, including one child, as well as six crew, he added.

The wreckage was spotted by a helicopter on Tuesday morning.

"After searching the area, we learned that, unfortunately ... our dear passengers had lost their lives", Tabatabai said.

"Deep and unsafe crevices in the area of the crash have made it impossible for helicopters to land", Ghafoor Rastinrooz, director of the regional medical centre, told official news agency IRNA.

Some of the bodies are recognizable and some are not.

The relief and rescue operations for removing dead bodies of passengers is underway and choppers have been dispatched to the plane crash area.

Bad weather, including dense fog, snow, and wind, as well as the remote location of the crash site and rugged terrain hampered the recovery efforts in the Dena mountain range.

On Sunday, an Iran Aseman Airlines passenger plane flying from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasuj went down in the Mount Dena region of Isfahan's Semirom district.

News Agency a rescue helicopter flies over the Dena mountains while searching for wreckage of a plane that crashed on Sunday in southern Iran Monday Feb. 19 2018

The plane was reportedly travelling from Tehran to the small town of Yasuj in Isfahan province. Locals described hearing the crash, but no one has reached the crash site due to weather.

Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai spoke to state TV on Sunday.

Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 disappeared on Sunday morning in the Zagros Mountains with 66 people on board.

Aseman Airlines was blacklisted by the European Commission in December 2016.

In a working paper presented to the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 2013, Iran said USA sanctions were barring "the acquisition of parts, services and support essential to aviation safety". The Islamic Republic was not allowed to purchase new Western planes and spare parts for about two decades.

The country has struggled to obtain spare parts to maintain its planes in the face of global sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear programme.

Though the 2015 nuclear deal lifted some of those sanctions, many older planes are still in service. The production of Boeing 727, the three-engine jet ended in 1984.

The sale could still be scuppered if US President Donald Trump chooses to reimpose sanctions in the coming months, as he has threatened to do.

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